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The End of The Novel of Love

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Offers powerful insight into the portrayal of romantic love by Jean Rhys, Clover Adams, Christina Stead, Willa Cather, Grace Paley, Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, and others.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Beacon Press (first published September 30th 1997)
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Nicholas Ochiel
The end of the novel of love, and, thus, the end of love, and the end of love as a metaphor. This is what modernity hath wrought, and so forth. The point is: too much has happened (to us, as individuals, as peoples, as nations, recently) for us to hold onto the belief in love as the ultimate source of transcendental life and self-knowledge. Love simply does not work, and does not do the work for us, in life or in fiction. For women in particular, love (and marriage), as Berlant discusses in The ...more
Happyreader
I was torn between giving this book three or four stars. The writing is excellent but I was left ultimately unfulfilled, appropriate given the theme of this book. I enjoyed the ride but I'm not sure where I ended up. I finally decided on four stars since the problem may be more a reflection on current literature than on the author's own insights.

This is a well-written analysis of a shift in literature critiquing the inadequacy of romantic love as the ultimate conveyer of true happiness; that tru
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subashini
I'm going to be lazy and simply link to Nicholas' review because it's good and summarises quite well what was left out of Gornick's discussion.

This is a book I wish I had read about ten years ago because it's rich, full of unpredictable insights, particularly the sections where she talks about the anxieties and erotics of the mother-daughter bond (or trap, as it might be). It made me want to seek out lesser-known works by well known writers (Radclyffe Hall's The Unlit Lamp, Willa Cather's Song o
...more
Diane
A brilliant collection of essays about the idea of love in literature (and the culture at large). Gornick articulates what many readers (females, in particular) and writers may have only intuited for some time. Her vision is so penetrating, her analysis so mature--both unsparing and generous--that she should be required reading in every literature course. Here are two excerpts from the essay, "Tenderhearted Men," which discusses the works of Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, and Andre Dub ...more
Jukka
Jul 16, 2009 Jukka added it
The End of the Novel of Love - Vivian Gornick

Definitely to be recommended. Thank you Shannon!

Accepting the final premise (i've been trying, unsuccessfully to find books as counter examples) leads me to an additional conclusion. Gornick is speaking of Western literature, which represent the collective atitudes of western readers. So by extension western views of romantic love and it's meaning have radically changed as well. The literary change is a secondary effect. The social and cultural change
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Jalen Flores
Vivian Gornick's The End of the Novel of Love presents a much different read then what I'm used to. I typically read works of fiction, but Gornick gives readers her take on how these novels are made, essentially a critique of other books. Really, what we have here is a nonfiction book that incorporates plenty of fiction.
At first glance, the title makes one think that we're going to read about how love novels are coming to an end. Though not presented in this format, what we think we're going t
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Michael
I thought this was a great idea for a book of literary criticism, and I read through the whole thing in a couple nights in bed. (That's a good sign-- it kept me awake.) It's an obvious companion piece to Fiedler's "Love and Death in the American Novel." Gornick argues that love is basically over as a folk religion and as a happy ending for a work of contemporary literature. Pop culture is only in the process of catching up. That may sound obvious to some, but it's worth getting into deeper.

"We l
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astried
“I am thirty-five years old, and it seems to me that I have arrived at the age of grief. Others arrive there sooner. Almost no one arrives much later.... It is not only that we know that love ends, children are stolen, parents die feeling that their lives have been meaningless.... It is more that... after all that schooling, all that care... the cup must come around, cannot pass from you, and it is the same cup of pain that every mortal drinks from.”

Jane Smiley's The Age of Grief

“We loved once,
...more
Lesley
The only reason this collection of wonderful essays on the novel and the love-narrative and what it means and its decline does not get 5 stars is that one of the essay was one I'd already read in The Men In My Life, so I was just a bit disappointed (though I could see how it fit in here).
David Clark
I am awarding this book of literary critique a "provisional" three star rating. This does not mean I think the prose is bad. On the contrary, Vivian Gornick writes with considerable style, even elegance. Rather, this is a work of a thoughtful, knowledgable, and passionately opinionated critic. It is also a work that requires that a reader desiring to interact with the text on more than a superficial level must be well read, very well read. To Ms. Gornick's credit, her book did not discourage me ...more
Linda
Dec 20, 2008 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: realists
An elegant bibliographic essay; a long yet taut feminist literary criticism piece on some topics I am very interested in: the fallen -- because she is unrealized -- woman; the failure of the romantic love story to grow a person or a great novel or to be an end in itself. I'm grateful to this book for leading me back to some novels on this theme it is an opportune time for me to revisit: Portrait of a Lady, Middlemarch, Wide Sargasso Sea, To the Lighthouse. And some new ones I haven't read yet li ...more
Paula
Vivian Gornick makes the point that love as a life changing, all or nothing experience has been diluted by the ease of divorce and recoupling. Since divorce and remarriage are socially accepted neither Anna nor Emma would be taking the same life shattering risks today. She cites various novels about divorce today and realizes that while she is upset for the characters she isn't likely to have the experience of tragedy in reading today.
Morgan
The literary criticism provided by my AP High School English teacher was far more in depth and well written than Gornick's meager attempt at discussing (gossiping about?) Chopin and a few other great writers (and sometimes their lovers). Poorly written and strangely organized; the most humorous line was "impaled by Hamlet's dilemma." Enough said.
Marijke
This was the first book I read by a woman who has become my favorite contemporary author. Non-fiction about fiction. I devour everything she writes.
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Date of Birth: 1935

Vivian Gornick is an American critic, essayist, and memoirist. For many years she wrote for the Village Voice. She currently teaches writing at The New School. For the 2007-2008 academic year, she will be a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. She caused a controversy when she said that she had invented parts of Fierce Attachments, her largely autobiographica
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More about Vivian Gornick...
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